It is worth trying to find out as much as possible about what is available in the school you plan to attend. In many parts of Eastern and Central Europe, especially outside the major cities, teaching materials are very thin on the ground. You may, for example, have to take your own tape recorder and listening material, including some blank tapes. Whether it is possible to find this information out or not, the following materials are always very useful: some flash cards and magazine pictures mounted on card; glue; a good grammar book (Practical English Usage by Michael Swan or A Practical English Grammar by Audrey J. Thompson and Agnes V. Martinet); photos from home (or even slides); songs on tapes plus lyrics; a good dictionary (The Collins COBUILD English Language Dictionary); and, if possible, a few videos of material from TV. (Videos from the U.S. are not compatible with European machines.) If you write to your local tourist board they usually will supply ample useful material. Authentic materials such as menus, brochures, magazines, and photos are always useful, as is a map of your country. A book on classroom activities will always be useful (Grammar Practice Activities by Penny Ur or Grammar Games by Mario Rinvolucri, as well as Discussions That Work by Penny Ur). If you have already been teaching, then you will, of course, have your own favorite books and supplementary material which you will want to take along. Finally, it might also be a good idea to arrange some pen pals before you go. Students usually love writing to people in another country, and if you organize this before leaving, it will save you a lot of effort trying to arrange it from a distance.
Excerpt reprinted with permission from Robert Lynes, Teaching English in Eastern and Central Europe (Lincolnwood, IL: Passport Books, 1996), 282 pp., $14.95. Contact: NTC Publishing, 4255 West Touhy Ave., Lincolnwood, IL 60646-1975; tel: 847-679-5500; fax: 847-679-2494.
Editor's note: The above excerpt giving helpful advice and bibliography for teaching English in post-Soviet societies should illustrate how invaluable Lynes's entire volume can be for prospective teachers. Loaded with practical counsel for everyday living, Teaching English also covers finding positions; travel, visa, and housing arrangements; model lesson plans; and points of grammar and glossaries of classroom words for each country covered: Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria. The volume also includes sections on teaching children and adolescents, and teaching business English. The author taught English in Hungary for six years (1988-93) and has traveled extensively throughout East Central Europe.
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© 1997 Institute for East-West Christian Studies